We’ve come a long way since AM radios. Today, drivers have satellite radio, MP3 players, and the most popular music players ever; our phones. Bluetooth makes listening to music while driving easier and more convenient than ever.
It turns out music has both positive and negative effects on our driving ability. Music has some subtle and not-so-subtle effects on judgment, driving skills, and behavior, and even small changes can cause drivers to make mistakes or take risks that they otherwise wouldn’t. On the other hand, music can also improve alertness, reducing fatigue and making drivers pay closer attention behind the wheel.
What Music Should You Listen to Behind the Wheel?
When judging music’s effects on driving ability, researchers focus primarily on one aspect of songs: their beats per minute (BPM). Songs with higher BPMs can cause drivers to become more risk tolerant and make them more likely to exceed the speed limits for the roads they’re on.
The sweet spot for driving music is songs that are between 60 and 80 BPM. Songs with BPM over 120 often result in more dangerous driving behaviors. Even subtle changes can be enough to increase the risk of crashes.
With those facts in mind, here are five current hit songs you should and shouldn’t listen to while you’re behind the wheel:
Top 5 Most Dangerous Songs to Listen to while Driving
- bad guy by Billie Eilish – 135 BPM
- Talk by Khalid – 136 BPM
- Sucker by Jonas Brothers – 138 BPM
- If I Can’t Have You by Shawn Mendes – 124 BPM
- Sweet But Psycho by Ava Max – 133 BPM
Top 5 Safest Songs to Listen to while Driving
- Old Town Road by Lil Nas X ft. Billy Ray Cyrus – 67 BPM
- Suge by DaBaby – 75 BPM
- Beer Never Broke My Heart by Luke Combs – 77 BPM
- Earfquake by Tyler, The Creator – 80 BPM
- 7 Rings by Ariana Grande – 70 BPM
If you want to reduce your risks while driving with a playlist that features nothing but 60-80 BPM songs, check out our custom Safe Driving Songs Spotify playlist.
Perks of Listening to Music while Driving
Listening to music that you enjoy is proven to put you in a better mood. And when you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to be patient, cautious, and avoid unnecessary risks. Certain types of music can even increase your heart rate, making you less fatigued, which is a huge benefit on long trips, or when driving earlier in the morning or late at night. And finally, some studies show music has the potential to improve safe driving habits, including improving your control of your vehicle.
Risks of Listening to Music while Driving
Jamming out to your favorite tunes while you’re behind the wheel isn’t completely risk-free. You may become too wrapped up in the music and lyrics, causing you to become distracted from the road. In addition, you may be more tempted to frequently change songs, playlists, or radio stations while you drive, which is another potential source of distraction. Finally, songs with fast tempos may encourage drivers to subconsciously speed.